Cignal, the country’s newest provider of telecommunications infrastructure, is completing an investment in excess of €2m building new telecoms towers in Laois as part of a €25m nationwide investment programme.
The investment was announced at the Laois Chamber of Commerce’s launch at The Heritage Hotel in Killenard this morning.
Cignal has added 12 new towers in the past 18 months including recent installations in Killenard, Portarlington, Stradbally, Errill and Sheffield Cross.
The new towers will address coverage blackspots and will also support the rollout of high-speed fixed wireless broadband for the 30,000 residents of the County that Cignal estimates will be in the coverage area of the new sites.
Cignal has been working closely with Laois County Council to help identify where new infrastructure will enhance services to the homes and businesses in the country who still don’t have any access to broadband.
Cignal is planning to build a further 3 towers before the end of the year in Ballylynan, Mountrath and Rathdowney to ensure the services are improved in these areas also.
These new towers will provide a massive boost to the mobile & broadband coverage in the County. Operator services are due to be rolled out over the coming months which will further enhance the services being offered for both mobile and fixed wireless broadband to the areas currently being targeted.
The new sites have made an enormous improvement to eir mobile coverage and customer experience in County Laois, with 4G outdoor geographic coverage estimated to be among their highest in Ireland at over 98.8%.
Cignal is sourcing equipment from Laois-based antenna manufacturer Alpha Wireless.
The company provides smart antennae solutions to mobile phone companies around the world, and its products will now be used by Cignal in its home county.
Alpha Wireless currently employs over 100 people in Laois, and Cignal is working with them on a deployment strategy that has resulted in an initial contract value in excess of €500,000.
Cignal has been working in line with the objectives of the Government’s Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, which has led to a Broadband Officer being appointed by Laois County Council to help work with telecoms operators and infrastructure providers like Cignal to improve services in the County and to reduce proliferation of masts through colocation.
Martin Crowley, President of the Laois Chamber of Commerce said: “With the right communications infrastructure a business can be successful anywhere. The work Cignal is doing will help companies in the County to thrive and compete both nationally and internationally.
“Laois is sending out a strong message that it is open for business and investment, with vibrant and dynamic companies who prove that you don’t have to operate within the M50 to deliver world-class service.”
Cignal’s Chief Executive Colin Cunningham said: “Once our customers’ services are rolled out across the new Cignal infrastructure in the County there will be very few places remaining without mobile and broadband services.
“We are working very closely with our customers and the Council to identify poorly served areas, and have sought to address them in our investment programme.
“This approach will help encourage colocation of services and reduce the unnecessary proliferation of towers. It is a template we now hope to replicate in other Counties, but as a Laois resident I am pleased and proud that it was the County we covered first. More importantly we are using Laois based companies to deliver the solutions required which can now be replicated across other Counties who wish to achieve the same results.”
Antoinette Brennan, Broadband Officer at Laois County Council said: “Cignal’s investment is great news for the county. Over the past 12 months the company has worked with us to understand where we have been receiving complaints about poor mobile and broadband services, and then incorporating this feedback into its investment plans.
“One of the objectives of the Government’s Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce was to ensure councils improved their level of engagement with telecoms operators and infrastructure providers, and this is an excellent example of this direction being acted upon.”
Fergal Lawlor CEO of Alpha Wireless: “We are proud to be a Laois based business that is exporting equipment all over the world.
“It is great to be part of this important investment project in our home county, which will see Alpha’s leading-edge technology helping improve Laois’s digital infrastructure.”
Jason Redmond, Managing Director of Jason Redmond & Associates: “As a company based in Portlaoise its fantastic to be working on an important engineering project that will help improve connectivity for businesses and households in the County.
“We all know how important high-speed broadband and a good mobile phone connection are these days, and Cignal’s investment is helping to make this happen.”
Speeds of greater than 150mbps are now possible through Mobile and Fixed Wireless Broadband solutions, compared to 20mbps 5 years ago, meaning rural businesses that don’t have access to fibre, farm operations, people working from home or small start-ups can use video streaming, social media and other bandwidth hungry applications without lengthy buffering or loss of connection.
Nonetheless continuous investment is required given ComReg’s forecast that the demand for mobile data in Ireland will grow at an average of 32% per year up to 2022.